Croup is not something that is widely known, but it can be a danger to your baby. So what is croup? Croup is a condition that irritates a baby’s upper airways and then causes them to swell. This can then cause your baby to have trouble breathing. The breathing will make a lot of noise and sound like a high-pitched bark. The baby’s voice will also sound raspy and hoarse, especially when crying.
Croup is most often caused by an infection. It is also more common in the fall and early winter and is more common in boys than girls. Children anywhere between three months and five years of age are the most at risk. Croup is also contagious, especially in the first few days or until the child’s fever is gone (if there is one).
Most croups are caused by a virus that infects the voice box and windpipe. Croup may start off like a cold but will then develop into a cough that sounds like a bark and even a high-pitched wheezing sound when breathing in. There could also be a low fever.
Spasmodic croup develops suddenly, often overnight. Your child may wake up gasping for air and also have a coarse, high-pitched cough. A fever is less common with spasmodic croup. Spasmodic croup is believed to be caused by an allergy or reflux from the stomach. That is when contents from your baby’s stomach move up into the esophagus.
Your child may also experience other symptoms like a rash, eye redness and swollen lymph nodes. If those symptoms do not improve after three to five days, contact your child’s doctor. If your child has a hard time swallowing, breathes much faster than normal, has a hard time breathing, turns gray or blue around the nose, mouth or fingernails, contact the doctor straight away.
How do you treat croup? Most mild cases can be treated at home. Keep your child calm by singing, cuddling or reading stories. Keep the air moist as well. Use a humidifier to moisten dry air. Don’t have one? Run a hot shower to make the air steamy. Then sit in the bathroom with your child for 10 minutes or so. You can also open a door or window for a few minutes if it is cool outside. All of these may help with the child’s cough.
Give your child fluids to keep him or her hydrated. Warm, clear fluids can help loosen mucus. Keep the child’s head elevated as well. However, do not use pillows with babies under 12 months of age. You might also want to sleep in the same room as your child so you can notice breathing issues.
As I said before, if symptoms do not disappear within three to five days, contact your child’s doctor. If your child has more severe symptoms like the ones mentioned above, seek medical attention immediately.
If you are in need of a pediatrician for your child, call 317-880-8687 or visit www.eskenazihealth.edu/doctors.
Nydia Nunez-Estrada, M.D.
Eskenazi Health Urgent Care East